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My slimline mATX gaming plans: trying to find most performance-equivel

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January 15, 2010 7:36:28 PM

Hi there. I'm just looking for some perspective on an mATX system I'm looking to build. The system is mainly built as a dedicated system for racing games (rfactor, GTR Evolution) I like to play and maybe some other casual gaming. My current desktop system can handle the games I currently play with no problems and they look great as far as I'm concerned. So this is in a way is still an upgraded system for me, but I want it to run only my games and such.

First off, my main objective is to build the best gaming system I can for a slimline mATX form factor and not an HTPC. So I want to make a point that we're talking low-profile video cards here. I'll start off by listing the most powerful low-profile video card I could find is Radeon HD 4650 128-bit 1GB made by ASUS. Now, from here, I was planning on buying a motherboard with 2x PCI-e slots then I could go CrossFire and go with two of those cards for some extra power.

Second, I'd like to build a system that I could ramp up a bit, make it powerful enough to hold its own for a few years, which is another point for buying 2 cards I could CrossFire. So, yes, I do plan on overclocking soon after I build it.

Here's my planned setup at a glance:
MB: DFI LanParty JR 790GX-M3H5 Socket AM3/ AMD 790GX/ CrossFireX/ mATX
CPU: Phenom II X2 550 BE
Video: 2x low-profile ASUS Radeon HD 4650 1GB
RAM: G.Skill 2x2GB DDR3 1600 or 1333 (can't figure out which would be better)
HD: 2x 80GB WD VelociRaptor SATA 16MB cache running RAID1
CASE: Antec Minuet350 350W Power Supply Slimline Desktop Case
HSF: ZALMAN low-profile something, I'll pick it up after I build the stock system.

I don't have a real budget in mind because I'm trying to do the most I can combining small form with high function. I've already been shopping around for the best prices for the parts I picked out so far.

My main concern is this: am I building a system with too much mismatch in performance between the components? I'm just a little concerned because I don't know of too many people who have tried what I am trying here and I want to squeeze every bit out of juice of the thing without going overkill and wasting money on an unnecessarily powerful component like the CPU or RAM.

Well, tell me what you think so far. Thanks for your time.
January 15, 2010 8:20:31 PM

Velociraptors are outdated. The new 7200RPM 500GB platter drives are faster.
Look at the Samsung F3 500GB or Seagate 7200.12 500GB.

I would recommend looking at Scythe for a quiet low profile cooler. Zalman is becoming outdated.


The problem I see is that your graphics card is so underpowered. You are going to have to play at very low resolutions or very low graphics settings. Think about what you would buy if you were not restricting yourself to slimline. Is the performance loss really worth restricting yourself to slimline for? Since I have no idea of your budget, monitor resolution and gaming expectations I cant help you answer these questions.
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January 16, 2010 4:45:52 AM

OK, I guess I'll skip the WD Velociraptors and go back to the 2x320GB 16MB cache Seagate ones I was planning on before. It's just that I don't need high capacity for this system.

I never really considered HTPC case before because I thought they were just made to look prettier than other mATX cases and because of their price. Now I looked into these cases and found this one: SilverStone Lascala LC11 http://www.sundialmicro.com/silverstone_desktop_htpc_ca...

Now I wonder also, should I stick with the 790GX/SB750 motherboard or settle for a cheaper and more readily available 785G motherboard with an SB710? There's a couple of options out there for mATX AM3/DDR3 ready and I'm looking for something that would work well with overclocking and still perform well for a while. EDIT: I didn't realize the limited differences between the SB710 and the SB750. I guess taking a motherboard with SB710 isn't a big deal.

Also, I would like any suggestions for a decent video card that would fit well with my system.

And for comparison, my current desktop system (last year's budget build) is as so:
X2 7850 Black Edition AM2+ OC'd to 3.1Ghz
Sapphire Radeon HD 4830
2x2GB DDR2 800 RAM timed to 4-4-4-12-18-2T
1TB WD Caviar Black

So, thanks again for your time I really appreciate the suggestions.
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January 18, 2010 5:54:43 PM

Why are you getting 2x320GB HDDs? Velociraptors will be faster than 320GB platter drives. I would think a single 500GB drive (samsung F3 500GB) would suffice and be much cheaper ($55).
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January 19, 2010 9:39:01 PM

I agree with dndhatcher, the 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS are faster and 180Gb larger for 5 dollars more. I've never had a Samsung drive but my Seagates have allways been outstanding except for the 1500Gb ones with the bad firmware that were a hassle to repair. I think I would spend my video card budget on one card. You may be completely satisfied with the single cards performance. If not you can always get a second one later and as an added bonus it will have come down in price by then. Make sure the slim case you get will have riser cards for both pci express slots.
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